Release upgrading requiring user input baffles inexperienced users

Bug #1007543 reported by Matteo Settenvini
60
This bug affects 14 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
ubuntu-release-upgrader (Ubuntu)
Undecided
Unassigned
update-manager-core (Ubuntu)
Undecided
Unassigned

Bug Description

Dear Ubuntu people,

I have several inexperienced friends using Ubuntu. This week, and the previous one, they tried to upgrade to Precise Pangolin through the GUI: update-manager pops up, they are told there is a new release, 12.04, and they click on "Upgrade".

After all the packages are downloaded, though, often the process stops in the middle of installing packages. One common case almost all my friends stumble at, is near the beginning, when an obscure (for them) list of services is presented, and they are asked if to "restart" them. They have:

a) no idea what a service is. What is stuff like "rsync"? "libc"? They're scared a wrong decision might break their machine.

b) many of them have left their machine unattended for the past hours. They are surprised that in 6-7 hours the process is still in its early stages and unfinished! They want to use their machine! They're not only scared, but angry, too!

c) the window presented to them is a ncurses one. It has no focus. They try to type with the keyboard, and nothing happens. After a while, they try to clic on the "Ok" button (even though they do not know it is a button). It doesn't work. They panic and call me. I tell them to try to clic on the lower part of the update manager screen, and to press "TAB" until "Ok" is selected. They cannot tell when it is selected reliably. In the end I have to keep a level tone and ask them to be cool, and have a laugh, as they would like to unplug the computer in frustration. They are scared they will never be able to recover the documents that were there before, but they do not know how to proceed.

Up until now, the list of affected friends includes my own mother (she's 57 years old, Italian, and owns her own PC), my girlfriend (25 years old, she is German, has a laptop running Ubuntu), and a friend of mine (he is 21 years old, Argentinian, and has a PC). So it looks people of different ages, culture and gender stumble into this problem :-p.

Of course, the situation is less than optimal. This reminds me of a discussion Richard Hughes of PackageKit's fame had with Debian devs some time ago [1], about debconf requiring user input during an upgrade process. I didn't get back then how much this is a *bad* idea. As far as I know, rpm does it without user input, and creates a series of ".rpmnew" config files when needed. Then, at the end of the installation process, notifies the users there is some manual configuration to be done. I think this is the right way to handle the issue. If not upgrading a config file will result in the relative package to stop working, then a ".rpmold" file is forced to be created, so that no info is lost.

Please, to avoid people calling their "expert" friends and make it really "Linux for everyone", could you please make the *UPGRADE* process *NON-INTERACTIVE*?

[1] http://wiki.debian.org/PackageKit/Discussion
"Authentication or license prompts can only be done before the transaction has started, and messages or notices about the transaction can only be shown after the transaction has completed"

Revision history for this message
Olly Betts (ojwb) wrote :

The level of interaction seemingly required by do-release-upgrade is a pain for experienced users too.

I've just upgraded about a dozen machines to precise. Using do-release-upgrade is apparently the supported way to do this, but requires a frustratingly high level of interaction, asking several questions which seem to have perfectly sane default answers, and these questions aren't all asked together, meaning each upgrade stalls a number of times waiting for user input. Setting the debconf threshold to "critical" didn't make much difference.

For me, a --assume-yes option to do-release-upgrade (the equivalent of «apt-get dist-upgrade --assume-yes») would be ideal.

Revision history for this message
Jason James (jason-james) wrote :

Try using do-release-upgrade -d -f DistUpgradeViewNonInteractive

Revision history for this message
Jason James (jason-james) wrote :

If you need to specify a specific answer use the following

sudo sh -c 'echo "y\n\ny\nN\nN\nN\nN\nN\nN\nN\nN\nN\nN\nN\n" | DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive /usr/bin/do-release-upgrade'

I agree though, the documentation should be a little better the functionality is there.

Revision history for this message
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in update-manager-core (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Revision history for this message
B Bobo (yout-bobo123) wrote :

It seems there are still developers who are happy using shells who don't understand ordinary users who aren't.
Ordinary users who want to upgrade don't want to have to open a shell and type monstrosities such as "do-release-upgrade -d -f DistUpgradeViewNonInteractive" (and it's even mixed case!!).

This is another example of how offputting Ubuntu can be for ordinary users. We need to raise our game (LP Bug #1)

Voting in support of the idea that a graphical-interface for upgrading must remain strictly graphical at all times.

Revision history for this message
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in ubuntu-release-upgrader (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
B Bobo (yout-bobo123)
affects: ubuntu-release-upgrader → ubuntu-release-upgrader (Ubuntu)
Changed in ubuntu-release-upgrader (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Revision history for this message
Peter Cordes (peter-cordes) wrote :

I've been collecting up links to the various bugs about prompts during upgrades:
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ubuntu-release-upgrader/+bug/1309802

Revision history for this message
jimav (james-avera) wrote :

There's more... After another very long delay to install packages, it asks you for "PAM profiles to enable".

Q: Why would this ever need to change on an upgrade?
If it really is absolutely necessary to ask the user about this, then factor out the data-collection part so it can be run before starting the upgrade (perhaps passing the resulting data as options to the relevant program).

Revision history for this message
jimav (james-avera) wrote :

Sorry, posted to wrong bug. Please ignore comment #9 (not relevent here)

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